US 7574378 B2
A system for distributed digital images. The system comprises image publishers, image buyers, and a system service center. Image publishers, interested in selling rights in high-resolution images, publish thumbnails representing those images in the service's web-site. The image buyer, searching the service web site for images of particular attributes, selects those thumbnails meeting her/his requirements, and gets from the service a temporary direct communication link to the image repository of the image publisher. The buyer gets the option to remotely review, enhance and embed, in a page layout, the low-resolution representation of the selected thumbnails, and quality check parts of the high-resolution images. The buyer negotiates a price with the image publisher, and pays via the service's billing module. On conclusion the buyer acquires the high-resolution image file directly from the publisher's repository.
1. A method of locating and purchasing high-resolution images by a buyer directly from a publisher of said images, the method comprising:
a) accessing a system service unit through a network connection;
b) searching attributes of said high-resolution images in said system service's data base and selecting desired thumbnails;
c) simulating, enhancing and verifying a quality of the high-resolution images and their low-resolution representation corresponding to said selected thumbnail by controlled remote accessing of an image publisher unit via a network connection;
d) purchasing from said system service unit and paying for a permission to download said selected high-resolution images;
e) acquiring from said image unit, said selected image in high-resolution format directly to said image buyer terminal; and
f) automatically rendering said selected image in high-resolution format ready for print by applying parameters of step (c).
2. The method of
a) evaluating the low-resolution representation of a selected thumbnail;
b) cropping and scaling said low-resolution representation;
c) enhancing said low-resolution representation including at least one of toning, sharpening, color correction and color conversion;
d) embedding the selected and enhanced low-resolution image in a page layout;
e) obtaining from said high-resolution image a defined partial image in maximum resolution, and
f) simulating said partial image on said image buyer terminal calibrated screen.
3. The method of
4. The method of
a) negotiating a price, of the high-resolution image by said image buyer, by accessing said image publisher's price negotiating module;
b) paying the negotiated price; and
c) combinations thereof.
5. The method of
publisher, the service unit, or split between eligible parties.
6. The method of
a) downloading said selected high-resolution image via said network connection;
b) receiving a removable storage device including said selected high-resolution image, and
c) receiving a transparency representing said selected high-resolution image.
7. The method of
8. A method of embedding images, selected from an image-bank or a peer-to-peer networked service, in an image buyer's page layout, the method including:
a) selecting at least one thumbnail available from said service to be embedded in said layout;
b) obtaining the low-resolution image, corresponding to said at least one selected thumbnail;
c) fitting said low-resolution image in said image buyer's page layout;
d) enhancing said low-resolution image, including at least one of toning, sharpening, color correction and color conversion;
e) obtaining from the high-resolution image, corresponding to said low resolution image, a defined partial image in maximum resolution;
f) simulating said partial image on said image buyer's terminal calibrated screen, wherein said simulation is one of generic simulation or precise simulation;
g) closing said page layout including the enhanced low-resolution representation and simulation of the image;
h) purchasing said high-resolution image from said image-bank or peer-to-peer service;
i) acquiring said high-resolution image from an image publisher's repository to the image buyer's terminal; and
j) automatically embedding and enhancing said high-resolution images in said layout.
9. The method of
a) negotiating a price, of said high-resolution image, by accessing said publisher's price negotiating unit, and
b) paying the negotiated price.
10. The method of
11. The method of
a) downloading said selected high-resolution image via said network service
b) receiving a removable storage device including said selected high-resolution image file, and
receiving a transparency representing said selected high-resolution image.
The present application is a Continuation-In-Part application of International Patent Application PCT/IL03/00674, filed 14 Aug. 2003, published as publication No. WO 2004/046982 on Jun. 3, 2004 and claims priority from U.S. provisional application 60/426,351, filed Nov. 15, 2002. The present application further claims benefit of U.S. provisional application 60/564,216, filed 22 Apr. 2004.
The invention relates to the acquisition of digital stock images used in the graphic arts industry over Peer-to-Peer networks In particular, obtaining selected digital stock images directly from their originators, using the Internet services.
The following terms are defined in the web site:
The following terms were taken from:
We have broadened the above definition:
The following terms are defined for the purpose of this application (note
Digital stock images are widely used over the Internet. A common use of these images in the Graphics Arts industry is described below:
Designers, who design a page, look for a specific image to be inserted in that page layout. This image can be specially originated for this occasion or can be searched for in repositories for stock images. These repositories, often called Image Banks, are widely used over the World Wide Web, for example, Getty Images of Seattle, Wash. The designer who looks for an image in an Image Bank can view a small representation of the image If the designer is pleased with this image, he or she negotiates with the Image Bank the price of the full-resolution image. The price depends at least on two factors: the image attributes (how rare, how artistic, whether a celebrity, etc.) and the use of the image in the print (size, media type, media circulation, etc.).
The Image Bank service poses several problems:
Presently, most of the stock image trading is performed via Image Banks.
An Image Bank 10 purchases 11 the original media of an image, e.g. film, from an Image Supplier 20. The Image Bank 10 then scans the film in-house, stores it in an Image Repository 30, and posts its low-resolution representation on the Image Bank's web server 12 which is located on the Internet (50). Once an Image Consumer 40 is interested in stock images, he or she performs a search 14 in the Image Bank 10 web site. Upon location of an appropriate (low-resolution) image, the Image Consumer 40 initiates a purchasing transaction of the high-resolution image. The Image Bank's Management Unit 17 concludes a transaction and up loads the image from the Image Repository 30, and transfers 15 it via the Internet 50 to the Image Consumer 40.
The main problems with this model are: the Image Consumer 40 pays more than necessary, the Image Supplier 20 does not get her/his fair share in the transaction, the images are not ready for print, and finally the images selected from the web-site are not in full-resolution and therefore the Image Consumer cannot evaluate the image quality before the transaction
There are other means of stock image trading that are in use. For example, tools that enable the Image Supplier to publish her/his images directly on the Web.
The main drawbacks of this model are: the Image Consumer 40 needs to perform a double search, first a search for one or more Stock Images Publisher 60, and a second search for the specific image within the Stock Images Publisher's website. The Stock Images Publisher has a relatively small repository 19 of images and thus the consumer has fewer images to choose from.
Embodiments of this invention provide a system and method for trading of digital content, particularly graphic arts images, between image publishers, image buyers and a control and coordination service, all communicating via the Internet or other communication means
According to one aspect of the invention, there is provided a distributed trading system comprising of image publishers, each having a repository for high-resolution images and an image publishing module, image buyers, a system service unit having an image attributes database, a search module, a billing module and a coordination and control unit and an image enhancement unit. The image publishers, image buyers, enhancement unit and the service unit communicate preferably via the Internet or by means of other communication methods, including physical transfer of films and CD's.
In preferred embodiments of the invention described below, the image publishing module comprises of an image metadata publishing module, an image high-resolution exporting module, a first module of the image enhancement unit and an image price negotiating module, each including further functional units serving the purpose of the system. This image publishing module is downloaded from the service unit to the image publisher upon the first registration of images by the publisher in the service A second module of the image enhancement unit is part of the service unit.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention described below the image enhancement unit includes tools for exporting low-resolution and high-resolution images, in partial or full format, from the image publisher repository; tools for evaluating, enhancing, quality checking, simulating and performing selected layout functions. These tools are functional for assisting the image buyer to conclude the purchase of a specific high-resolution image, initially presented by the service unit as a thumbnail. The evaluation, enhancing and simulation functions are operated from the buyer's computer over the network on the selected file residing in the publisher's repository.
In an alternative embodiment the system service unit includes also an image repository, enabling a different method of operation.
In another alternative embodiment of the invention the enhancement unit is downloaded from the service unit to the image buyer upon the first registration in the service. The evaluation, enhancing and simulation functions are operated from the buyer's computer over the network on the selected file residing in the publisher's repository.
The preferred method of operation described in this invention for the direct purchase of high-resolution images by an image buyer from a specific image publisher comprises: accessing by the buyer the system service unit and searching for the required image by defining desired attributes. Upon location by the service of the attributes in its attributes database, a thumbnail is presented to the image buyer in the service's web-site. A multitude of such thumbnails are pre registered by one or more image publishers in the service with their respective attributes. At the request of the image buyer, a temporary peer-to-peer network connection is established between the buyer and image publisher, and the buyer gets direct access to the low-resolution image file as well as to selected parts of the high-resolution image file. The buyer has now the opportunity to verify, enhance and embed in a page layout, the low-resolution image of each selected thumbnail, quality check selected parts of each respective high-resolution image file and create color simulations. Upon satisfactory completion of the enhancement and quality checks the buyer can purchase the high-resolution image, by negotiating directly with the image supplier the terms of purchase and mode of payment. The payment is done via the billing system of the system's service unit, which can split the payment between eligible parties. The high-resolution image file is consequently transferred from the supplier's repository to the buyer, by means of network downloading, physical transfer of a removable storage media or a transparency. The high-resolution image file is automatically rendered by the enhancement unit to be ready for print, based on the enhancement and quality factors performed at an earlier stage
In another preferred embodiment the attribute database can be segmented according to known preference of buyers, such as saturated colors, skin tone or ultra high-resolution. These preference factors entail specific conversion of the low-resolution and high-resolution files representing the image.
In another preferred embodiment the invention an image publisher can be defined as an Exclusive Content Provider.
Certain tools described in this invention are applicable both in the preferred embodiments of the peer-to-peer system or in the prior-art image bank trading method.
The invention is herein described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
The invented Peer-to-Peer system, as schematically described in
The Peer-to-Peer service 100 is a hub type unit located on a web-server 33, connected to the Internet 50, having adequate bandwidth for up-loading and down-loading of metadata and Thumbnail images.
Image Publishers 110 (for example a museum) incorporate Image Suppliers 20 (for example, the museum's different departments), an image repository and additional software modules to be further explained later. The Image Publishers 110 own rights in proprietary hi-resolution images, which are registered as Thumbnails by action link 31 and published in the Peer-to-Peer service 100.
Graphic Arts Buyers 120 (for example, studios, ad-agencies, magazines) employ one or more Image Consumers 40 (for example designers) working for the same Buyer, equipped with additional software module to be further explained later. Graphic Arts Buyers 120 looking for stock images for their designs perform a search 32 for such images in the Peer-to-Peer service 100 web site. If, for example, Graphic Arts Buyer 120 c finds a Thumbnail that meets her/his requirements, and which belongs to a certain Image Publisher 110 b, an option is secured to buy rights in the chosen image and the Peer-to-Peer service 100 establishes 34 an ad-hoc Peer-to-Peer network connection 140 between the Image Publisher 110 b and the Graphic Arts Buyer 120 c. It assumed here that the ad-hoc network connection is physically feasible, the transmission quality is acceptable (including data transfer rate) and the security level is adequate.
The chosen hi-resolution image is transferred 36 via this connection to the Buyer, following Buyer's image quality verification 35 of the low-res and partial hi-res image and a payment procedure.
The communication means between Graphic Arts Buyers 120, Image Publishers 110 and the Peer-to-Peer service 100 can be other than the Internet, for example Intranet, and combinations of Internet, Intranet, phone and mail services for delivery of CDs or film, including, for example, the high-resolution file of the image.
The invented method and system components will be further explained now in detail.
The Peer-to-Peer service 100 comprises of 4 major units:
Image Publishers 110, having proprietary images in their own Repository 19, and who wish to sell rights in those images, register 31 these images by uploading the image Thumbnails into the Peer-o-Peer system. For each Thumbnail a form is submitted describing the image metadata, including, for example, physical attributes, content category, textual description of the content and pricing tables.
The System Control & Logic unit 150 performs at least 3 operations:
If the Image Publisher 110 is a new user of the system, the Image Publisher downloads the Image Publishing Module 180 into its own computer system (not shown). The function of the Image Publishing Module will be further explained later.
Image Consumer 40, who looks for particular images, searches 32 for such images in the Peer-to-Peer Service's web site 33, which prompts the System Control & Logic unit 150 to look in the Image Attributes DB 160 for the particular image, according to search properties entered by the Image Consumer 40. If such image/s are located, the Service 100 displays the respective Thumbnails to Image Consumer 40. If one or more of the Thumbnails are acceptable to the Consumer, a purchase option is opened, and the Service 100 establishes an ad-hoc peer-to-peer connection between the Image Buyer 120 and the Image Publisher 110 (as explained later in
If the Graphic Arts Buyer 120 is a new User of the system, the Image Consumer 40 downloads the Image Enhancement Module 190 into its own computer system (not shown). The function of the Image Enhancement Module will be further explained later.
For best understanding the typical Peer-to Peer system's workflow, to be further explained in
These two functions are further described hereby:
Maximum Details Function
Every professional graphic arts application (for example: oXYgen by Creo IL Ltd. Herzelia, Israel) enables the user to view parts of a high-resolution image on the screen. The main difference here is that in this invention the operation is carried out over the network, a technology facilitated by, for example, Synapse Insite, another of Creo's applications.
Output Simulation Function
This functionality enables a user to view an image as if it was printed on a specific output device. In particular, applications such as Creo's oXYgen, can simulate, for example, a RGB image (on a calibrated RGB monitor) as if was printed on a specific CMYK printer. This is achieved by using the appropriate ICC profiles in a proprietary color transformation method included in oXYgen The same function will be subsequently carried out, as explained above, by the Image Enhancement unit 190 on the full hi-resolution image file, before delivery to the Consumer.
It is further assumed that one or more Image Publishers 110 have registered their proprietary images with the Peer-to-Peer Service 100, as explained above.
Task 71. Consumer 40 searches 32 a specific type of image in Service 100.
Task 72. Service 100 scans for the required type in Image Attributes DB 160.
Task 73. Assuming one or more images are located, Service 100 displays (Task 75) to Consumer 40 the Thumbnails corresponding to the located images.
Task 77. Consumer 40 evaluates the Thumbnails and notifies Service 100 about her/his interest to continue the transaction. In this stage the Consumer can consult available grading information available by the Service.
Task 79. If positive, Peer-to-Peer service 100 checks if Consumer 40 is a first time Buyer, and in such case downloads (Task 81) to Consumer 40 an Image Enhancement Module 190.
Task 83. The System Control & Logic unit 150 establishes an ad-hoc peer-to-peer link 140 between Buyer 120 and the specific Image Publisher 110, who owns the located images (of Task 73). In order to do so, the System Control & Logic 150 gets the Publisher's network details from the Images & Buyers DB 160 and the Graphic Arts Buyer 120 details from the current connection data.
Task 85. The Consumer 40 retrieves, via the ad-hoc peer-to-peer link 140, a low-resolution representation of the image using the Image Enhancement Module 190 in cooperation with the Image Publishing Module (180) to get the relevant data from the Image Repository 19.
Task 87. The Consumer 40 verifies and enhances the low-res file of the image, using the tools available in Module 190, as listed above, in cooperation with Module 180. In this stage the Consumer can, for example, make certain that the specific image fulfils her/his graphic layout requirements dictated by the job at hand. Additionally the Consumer can embed the elected image/s in the job layout, to evaluate the entire page/job.
Task 89. The Consumer 40 checks the quality of the image, using tools in the Image Enhancement Module 190 as listed above, in cooperation with Module 180. In this stage the Consumer can, for example, verify that the quality of the image fulfils her/his end-product appearance requirements as dictated by the job at hand.
Task 91. If the Consumer likes the selected and verified image, the transaction is confirmed, and
Task 93. The Graphic Arts Buyer 120 (of which Consumer 40 is part of) negotiates with the Image Publisher 110 the price of obtaining the (full hi-resolution) image for the planned use. The negotiation is carried out directly on the ad-hoc peer-to-peer link 140, with collaboration of the Publishing Module 180 and Billing System 170. The negotiation can include, for example, the type of use, the period of use, exclusivity to certain geographical areas or for defined market segments.
Task 95. If the Consumer does not like the selected and verified image, the transaction is aborted and the Consumer may ask the Service 100 to propose other images for examination (return to Task 71 or 73).
Task 97. Upon successful termination of the negotiation in Task 93 the Buyer 120 buys the image and pays the agreed price via the Billing System 170. In case the negotiation fails, the transaction is aborted and the Consumer 40 has the option to examine an alternative (Task 95).
Task 99. Once the purchase of the image (Task 97) is completed the high-resolution image is retrieved from the Image Publisher's Repository 19 in collaboration with the Image Publishing Module 180 and the Image Enhancement Module 190. At this stage the previous operations done by Consumer 40 on the low-resolution files of the selected image (Tasks 87) will be automatically implemented on the retrieved file, thus rendering the file ready for inclusion in the job and subsequently for print.
The workflow of
The first embodiment describes a distributed image bank, where Image Publishers (content providers) provide full size images (content) to Graphic Arts Buyers via an indexing system of the Peer-to-Peer Service-One of the innovative features in this solution is the ability of the Image Buyers to view an image in the same colors it would later be printed, provided the viewer's monitor is well calibrated for soft proofing This feature is practically an Output Simulation function.
It was further indicated in the first embodiment that a software package titled Image Enhancing Module 190 is required (at the Image Buyer's 120 computer) to perform the Output Simulation. Since the Image Buyer is using a web browser to perform the complete process of searching, purchasing and downloading an image, adding a special module just for the sake of viewing an image, is cumbersome and might discourage users to adopt such a system.
The second embodiment describes a method to perform a complete Output Simulation without adding any additional software packages to the Image Buyer.
Output Simulation is a method, which displays an image on a calibrated screen showing its color as if printed on the specified output device In the first embodiment the Output Simulation is performed by an independent software package (Image Enhancement Module 190 installed at the buyer's computer) In this embodiment it is shown that such a simulation can be performed without using any additional software to the Internet browser.
By eliminating the need to download the Image Enhancement Module 190 we gain the following:
In order to perform an Output Simulation, a system should have at least 3 color profiles (for all practical purposes, a color profile is an ICC profile):
In some cases, another profile can be added to the chain, for example, a profile that is used to remove cast (color on top of neutral background) that precedes the input profile in the chain.
We distinguish between two types of Output Simulation procedures:
The operational sequence of the simulation is illustrated in
Precise Simulation (
Each image buyer, who wishes to have a precise simulation, will upload (at setup time or at any other time either at his/her initiative or per the system suggestion) the required profiles (display and output) to the Peer-to-Peer Service 100M. When the Output Simulation takes place, the process is divided into 2 parts:
Part 1, at the Image Publisher's site 110M (
It should be noted that the above precise method is one basic example of how to perform such a simulation. Another method would be to use RGB working space instead of Lab and use another profile between the input and output profiles
Another Option for Output Simulation
Based on the procedures explained above, a third option is available:
Each Image Publisher 110 can choose to become an Exclusive Content Provider (ECP) within the peer-to-peer service 100. By doing so, the Image Publisher achieves the following:
Brand identity. For each domain of an ECP, we define a sub-portal within the Peer-to-Peer Service 100. This sub-portal contains the following components:
Closed set: In order to create a closed set of images within the Peer-to-Peer Service 100, we attach each image with an attribute—“My Image Publisher”. When an Image Buyer 120 chooses to enter into the gallery of an ECP, the search attribute of “My Image Publisher” is assigned with a constant value, which matches the specific Image Publisher. Only when the Image Buyer explicitly chooses to exit this mode, the constant search attribute is reset
Different permission scheme: In order to create a “permission scheme”, each Image Publisher is assigned with a list of Image Buyers, each with a different permission scheme for the content offered by the Image Publisher. For every operation on this content (e.g. download) the current user profile is matched against the above list so that only a user with the appropriate permission can perform the operation.
Independent website; The Peer-to-Peer Service 100 is exporting a web API called Web Services. Almost every operation performed by the Peer-to-Peer Service can be called from a different web application on the following terms:
The alternative operational workflow of the Peer-to-Peer system of
The technologies and methods described in the preferred modes of this invention are known in the art of Graphic arts, Pre-Press and data communication over the Internet. Wherever specific technologies were employed, examples for such technologies were quoted.